Fields, roads, railroad tracks.

Rivers and creeks damaged them all in the recent floods — twice, once in May and again the first of July.

Wheat harvest is winding up this week and next week in Dickinson County and some flooded fields may be harvestable. Crews are working to repair county and township roads which are all open again.

But the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad is facing major damage, said Mary Jane Oard, director of the ASVRR and accompanying Rock Island Depot museum. The ASVRR owns the tracks.

The damage this time is greater than it was in May, she said.

The water came up faster this time than it did then, said Steve Schwarting. It washed out gravel and ballast, sometimes leaving ties hanging in air. Some of the ties have been washed out, but the biggest problem is the holes under them.

In some cases, Oard said, the track has sunk into the mud and is stuck.

Schwarting is president of the board of directors for the railroad, head of the track committee and in charge of the 100-year-old steam engine the railroad uses for dinner excursions.

The most damage is about a quarter-mile east and west of Jeep Road, he said.

There are smaller problems almost all the way to Enterprise, Oard said. The normal route is to Enterprise and back.

“I’m not sure how long it will take us to get it back in shape,” she said. “It’s anybody’s guess.”

“It’s going to take weeks,” Schwarting said. He didn’t have an estimate on how long repairs will take.

Joe Minnick, one of the volunteers working on the repairs, agreed that the damage is worse than it was in May when volunteers replaced 30 ties and “a lot of rock.”

He hasn’t counted the number of ties that will need to be replaced — all the ones they replaced in May that he’s seen are still there — and he hasn’t been down the entire route. But he has seen 10-to-12-foot sections that have been washed out 5 feet deep.

Volunteers are shoveling sand in holes up to their shoulders, Schwarting said.

Replacing ties won’t be a problem because the railroad has plenty on hand. But it will cost $10,000 or more for the gravel plus equipment costs and gas.

“We’ll sure take any donations,” he said.

To donate time or money, contact the ASVRR office at 263-1077.

Until the tracks are repaired, Oard said, the railroad will operate on its regular schedule, but on shortened runs. Tickets will be half-price, she said.

The tracks could be repaired before the next time the 100-year-old steam engine is scheduled to run on Aug. 31. It made a short run over the July 4 holiday, Oard said.

For regular runs, a diesel engine pulls the cars.

Contact Jean Bowers at

Contact Tim Horan at

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